Jordan Manley is an amazing storyteller, though he uses few words to convey his tales of people and places around the world. Instead, as the old adage says, "a picture is worth a thousand words."
Even if you're not a powder hound, you've heard Manley's name around town. Hell, this guy managed to snag the Deep Winter Photo Challenge two years in a row, despite being up against some long-time professional photographers like Scott Pommier, Ian Ruhter, Christian Pondella and Daniel Blom.
"It was really great - it was a bit of a dream come true for me. I'd wanted to be in that event for a number of years, so to be in it and do so well was pretty special."
Manley has some pretty strong ties to the Whistler community. Growing up in Deep Cove, on the North Shore, he spent five seasons skiing and biking our local hills and trails. In that time, he also developed a great fondness for the area.
Like many sports photographers, Manley was an athlete first and foremost, conquering local hills alongside his friends with a semi-reckless abandon. This passion for sport eventually led him to attempt to capture their exploits on film, and he began honing his skills from there, looking up to industry legends like Sterling Lorence, Paul Morrison and Blake Jorgensen along the way.
"I just kind of picked up my dad's camera and he taught me some basics and it was sort of a slow evolution from there," Manley explained.
His natural curiosity and appreciation of the nature and different cultures definitely translates on film, as his portfolio features not only breathtaking actions shots, but emotional portraiture that tells a story of the subjects and their homes.
Making a career from his photography definitely wasn't the original goal, but it seems to have translated into just that in a few short years.
"I had a friend that I sent some photographs to, and he was a professional photographer. He looked at the photos and he said, 'You should submit those,' so that was one of those moments where it was like well, maybe your work is good enough to be in that sort of realm."
Today, at just 24 years of age, Manley is a senior photographer for Powder magazine and contributes images to a raft of reputable publications around the world like Skiing, Backcountry, Ski Canada, and Decline, while his commercial client roster features the likes of Helly Hansen, Oakley, Whistler Blackcomb and Arc'teryx. Last year, his work was featured on the covers of both Powder and Skiing magazines, and was seen as far away as Japan and Europe.
"It's a pretty cool job and there's obviously a lot of people that would like to make that happen. It's a great lifestyle, too."
He admits that professional sports photography isn't the easiest industry to break into, but thinks that the key to his success thus far has been finding ways to stand out from the competition, using creative and innovative techniques and concepts.
"I think you have to be constantly out there, you know, showing people new things all the time..." he said. "It's about coming up with original images, which is hard to do."
Manley says he's interested in exploring video a bit more, and working on merging the two mediums as a creative, fun side-project, if he can find the time. He's even considering putting together an entry for the new ThreePointOh multimedia event at the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival.
Over the past year, Manley has spent a lot of time on the road, capturing images from as far away as Alaska and Antarctica. In between his stints out of town shooting and returning to his full-time Political Science studies at Simon Fraser University, he's also been coordinating an exhibition at MY Millennium Place. He's selected 21 of his favourite recent shots from abroad, and a few from close to home, and put them up for Whistler's outdoor and art-loving public to check out for the months of September and October.
"The theme is basically just some of my favourite images," Manley said, adding that many of the shots may feature some familiar landscapes.
"You are where you live, and just growing up here has been my biggest inspiration."
The exhibition opened the second weekend of September, with Manley and another photographer and freeskier, Chad Sayers, presenting slideshows of their work. They also held a fundraiser, with Arc'teryx and Kastle auctioning off gear to help support the Kees and Claire Memorial Hut Project.